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The Last King of Vanni

Updated on June 18, 2011

Pandara Vanniyan or Pandara Vannian was the last king of Vanni region, who was known as one of last native chiefs to challenge British rule in the Island nation of Sri-Lanka. Vanniar is a Tamil caste. Still you find Vanniar in Tamil nadu. The Vanniar caste referred in some other names as well. The Vanni is the name given to the mainland area of the Northern Province of Sri-Lanka.It covers the entirety of Mannar, Mullaitivu and Vavuniya Districts and most of Kilinochchi District.

Kulasegaram Vairamuthu Pandaravanniyan was the full name of Pandara Vanniyan. He had two brothers. Their names were Kaylaaya Vannian & Periya Nayinaar. Some say he had a sister as well. The Kakai Vannian was interested in her, but she didn’t like him, so she married a poet who was also from the Royal blood. This is the reason why Kakai Vannian got along with British & became a traitor. The Kakai Vanniyan’s story was true but there is no confirmation that Pandara Vannian had a sister.

Sri-Lanka was under Colonial rules. It was ruled by Portuguese from 1505-1658. The Dutch from 1656-1796. Then the British from 1815-1948.

Jaffna Kingdom came under Portuguese in 1621 & Vanni came under their contol, Parangichettikulam was their Ford. In 1782 it came under the Dutch by defeating Vanniar.

The Vanniar had to live in wild & live a marauding life. Hence they carried out several attacks in Mannar & Trincomalee , including several attacks in Jaffna. Then when these areas came under British, Pandara Vannian was the King of Vanni. He continued to attack the British & once attacked the government house of Mullithivu & drove the garrison which was under Captain Deriberc.

This war continued & 1803 British defeated Pandar Vannian with the help of the traitor Kakai Vanniyan, in a place called Katchelimadu. He was captured by British & later executed in 1811. The British respected him as a great warrior & paid a pension to his widow Vanni Naatchiyar. He was the last king of Vanni. His grandson was Pannirukaran Mailvahanam. Nobody knew his family tree after his grandson.

Tamil Nadu DMK Leader & ex Chief minister Dr.M.Karunanidhi wrote a book about Pandara Vanniyan.



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      Pushpa Ranjan 5 years ago

      Pandara Vannian was a brave king. More than anything else he was the bridge between the two nations namely Sinhala and Tamil. He was related through marriages to Kumarasinghe mahavanniya of Nuwarawewa. He forged alliance with the Kandyan kingdom to expel colonialists.Today even, the Singhalese of the singahal dominated areas of his former vanni kingdom worship him as a god "Vanni Bandara deiyo" who is believed to protect them in thick jungles.